I'm machining some small (1" x 1.5") aluminum brackets and want these to be
cosmetically nice. IOW, I'd like the machined surface to be unmarked by
clamp or vise marks. How can clamp these things in a vise so that they
won't get marked by the jaws and stay put while I'm cutting them? Soft
(aluminum, brass,) jaws or spacers of some sort?
The marks left aren't hugely obvious but I'd like to get as close to
perfection as I - and my limited skills - can.
I knew a fellow who showed me a trick. He took a foot of 1" copper
water pipe and would cut it down the middle and shape it to fit his
vise's jaws. It was pretty slick & I've kept it in the back of my
head to do some day on something I don't want to mar.
The usual soft metals or firm plastics in thin strips. Aluminum from old
instrument cases, the kind that has pebble-grained vinyl bonded to the
Automotive wet/dry sand paper, with the plain paper side against the
workpiece, and then cleaning the abrasive particles off the vise when done.
Fibreglas tape or circuit board stock, foil tape, heavy paper stock such as
file folder paper.
I'm wondering what might be the problem with the hardened, steel jaws in your
machine vise. Assuming that is what your have, that is. Are the parts an odd
shape or very delicate? I often use alum soft jaws cut to the desired shape to
hold the workpiece. The main thing in not marking up your parts is to keep
everything CLEAN. That doesn't mean just blowing air, though that is often all
that is needed. You must have the part and the jaws absolutely clean, no
residue. Also, a vise can generate a lot of clamping force, don't be
ham-handed. There is a time and place for leaning on the handle, and for not
leaning on it. If your jaws have irregularities, that may mean there are
depressed and protruding deformities. Use an Arkansas stone to rub out high
spots. If you don't have one, or one in good shape, use a tool bit (lathe) and
wrap some fine emory paper around it.
Good luck with the cosmetics, a little care and you should get nice results.
I used a couple of layers of duct tape over the jaws of my "little" bench vise
yesterday while making a "spoon ring"for that guy who asked for one one here
I was curling a flat sterling silver cutout around a piece of duct tape wrapped
3/8" iron pipe; Worked just fine for a quick "one off" job.
Score one more for duct tape....
Jeff Wisnia (W1BSV + Brass Rat '57 EE)
"If you can smile when things are going wrong, you've thought of someone to
In bench vises, I've used leather backed by plywood, sections of small
extruded aluminum angle, chunks of rubber from heavy truck mud flaps
and some magnet-backed nylon jaw faces made for the task. In a
machine vise, I haven't used anything. I suppose some copper sheet
shims, if clean on both sides, would work. Any of the things I've
used in a bench vise might let your piece wiggle around too much at
the wrong time in a mill. If your machine vise jaws are clean and
smooth, there shouldn't be much for marks left on the workpiece.
In the milling machine vise, two if it's flaaaaattt, or three if it's
not quite, pennies. Works a treat. Use the pennies under the work
too, for clamping to the table.
And to get something small in place in the bench vise, put it in Silly
Putty and then squeeze. It's like having four hands!
On 23 Jan 2004 13:28:00 -0800, firstname.lastname@example.org (Stan Schaefer)
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